The European Commission has issued its awaited second annual report on the progress of the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), a pivotal €800 billion initiative at the core of NextGenerationEU. This report sheds light on the steps taken to enhance economic and social resilience among Member States while simultaneously driving the EU’s response to the challenges posed by Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine through the REPowerEU plan.
The RRF stands out as a unique performance-based tool, where disbursement of EU funds is conditional on meeting pre-established milestones and targets, designed to tackle specific Member States’ challenges and align with EU priorities. Furthermore, the report highlights substantial advancements in terms of transparency and safeguarding the EU’s financial interests.
The Impact of the RRF Implementation
As of the report’s release, the Commission has received a total of 34 payment requests from 21 Member States, resulting in €153.4 billion disbursed for the execution of agreed-upon investments and reforms. The Council has already approved four revised plans inclusive of REPowerEU components, with 17 more revised plans currently under assessment by the Commission.
The report illustrates numerous instances where RRF financing has facilitated transformative reforms and investments, spanning all six policy pillars of the RRF. These transformations encompass climate and digital transitions, social initiatives, healthcare, and bolstering socio-economic and institutional resilience. The effects of the RRF are felt not only at the national level but also contribute to economic convergence and social cohesion across the European Union.
Notable outcomes include over 6 million people participating in RRF-backed education and training programmes, support to 1.4 million companies, protection measures benefiting 5.8 million individuals against climate-related disasters, and energy savings of 22 million megawatt hours due to the implementation of Member States’ recovery and resilience plans (RRPs).
High Transparency Standards
The Commission is dedicated to maintaining a high level of transparency throughout the RRF implementation, surpassing legal requirements. It has issued six guidance notes to assist national authorities and offer further clarity. Additionally, a framework for handling potential setbacks in meeting milestones and targets is included in the report.
To enhance transparency, the Commission provides a wealth of information on the RRF website, including individual RRPs. The recent revision of the RRF Regulation necessitates Member States to disclose information about the top 100 final recipients of RRF funding. The Commission is actively encouraging Member States to accelerate the release of this data, consolidating it on the Recovery and Resilience Scoreboard, an online portal tracking RRF progress.
In a bid to further improve visibility, the Commission launched an interactive online map displaying RRF-supported projects in each Member State. The Commission has also facilitated dialogues with the European Parliament and held numerous meetings with the informal RRF expert group, enhancing collaboration and ensuring transparency.
Solid Protection of EU’s Financial Interests
In 2023, the Commission bolstered its control framework following recommendations from the European Parliament, the Council, and the European Court of Auditors. This reinforced framework aims to provide additional assurance regarding the proper use of RRF funds and the protection of the EU’s financial interests, complementing the primary responsibility of Member States.
To ensure accountability, the Commission has conducted 14 risk-based ex-post audits on milestones and targets, verifying the accuracy of Member States’ reports on their satisfactory completion. Furthermore, the Commission has audited national control systems in 27 Member States and intends to complete audits for all Member States by year-end.
Further information can be found on the Commission’s website.
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